Electric forest - packing list

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About

NOTE: This page is a daughter page of: Electric forest


Electric Forest is a four-day and one-weekend multi-genre event with a focus on electronic music and jam band genres, held in a pine forest in Rothbury, Michigan. I went for my first time in June 2022, with my incredibe ex-girlfriend Liddy and had a blast! This article is a combination of my experiences plus the E-forest Tips From the Family 2022 and my Burning man - packing list.


Video Guide

For those that like videos, here's one I uploaded

Click here to watch the video

Title: ....... What to Pack for Electric Forest
Length: ..... 9:35
Credits: .... Andrew Noske
URL: ........ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qoft-FW-pTw

Me showing my suitcases of stuff I packed.


Preparing Your Phone, Ticket and Wristband

  • For your ticket / wristband:
    • It should arrive in the mail... keep it very safe, your wristband is used for gate entry. Don't lose it! ........................................... (tip: works best on your right hand, put it on when you arrive but leave it a little loose to keep your blood circulation!)
  • For your phone:


Transport Tips

To get to the electric forest, most people will need to fly nearby. The closest airport is Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapid (~1 hour drive), but you might find a cheaper flight to somewhere like O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago (~4 hour drive). Some people chose to get hire cards, but the great news is they have shuttles to the forest that offer pretty reasonable prices ($30-70) to and from all the nearby airports, and some of them feature a stop at WallMart along the way so that you can pick up some food or even a tent.

Whether you arrive by car or bus will determine how much space you have for packing. I decided to go to e-forest 2022 pretty late, so to save money I booked a flight to Chicago (cheaper), then a Greyhound bus to meet up with my friend (who has the tickets!) in GRR.


Electric Forest - Packing List

Here's what I will bring next time. I've broken this down into each main "piece".


Phone and Accessories

If you are lucky a friend will have solar or some way to charge your phone... else bring a big charge pack. Don't waste time waiting for spotty cell connection to contact people, just put your phone onto airport mode' AND battery saver mode immediately to extend the battery. In the Rothwell forest some people had spotty Verizon connection in the camps, but most other networks had nothing.

Use your phone for photos only and to collect the emails of people you want to Facebook / share photos with when you return. Your experience of e-forest is better if you surrender the idea of electronics. Some people may be funny about the use of phones for photos, but if you are respectful and ask permission most people understand that you want to take home picture memories of special moments. Just don't be one of those instagram people who focuses 90% on getting good pics and 10% on experiences. Try for 1% picture opportunities and 99% experiences and deep connections.

Before leaving, download the E-forest mobile app as this will include a map plus the schedule. The smartest people though will print out (maybe even laminate) a copy of the map and schedule so they don't have to rely on your phone.

  • phone battery pack ........................................... (try get a good phone battery power bank)
  • label your phone
  • download the E-forest mobile app
  • consider printing a copy of the map (jpg), schedule and any of your shuttle tickets ........................................... (in case your phone dies)
  • label your phone with your name and photo ........................................... (many people lose their phone)

A note on lost/stolen phones and other items: Many people lose their phones at e-forest. I lost a phone on a day I was dancing with hippy pants and the phone jumped out (note to self: not all pockets are good for phones). Thankfully I had a printed copy of my ID taped to the back (burning man style) and someone nearby identified my face 10 minutes after I dropped it! They have a lost and found on main street, plus a website to show lost items, but there's no guarantee your lost items won't be stolen. There was apparently quite a lot of theft in 2022.


Camel-pack / Fanny pack / Backpack

When you leave camp and head into the forest you'll at very least need a camel-pack for water. A hydration pack is enough space for some people, but I love having a larger backpack with comfortable straps and many pockets so that I can store extra water plus a hammock and much more. Liddy did a hydration pack plus a colorful festival fanny pack that I bought her with enough storage for her phone, hand sanitizer, a few other essentials and a hidden pocket for candy.

  • suvival
    • credit card ........................................... (used for all purchases, keep it safe)
    • 2 x liter water bottles
    • chapstick
    • sunscreen ........................................... (very important!!)
    • sunglasses ........................................... (bonus for fun sunglasses)
    • 5 granola bars ........................................... (hide them at the bottom of your bag since food isn't allowed)
    • tiny first aid kit ................................. (even a tiny first aid kit should contain little scissors and safety pins)
    • dust mask ........................................... (if two days without rain it can get very dusty)
    • hand sanitizer .......................................... (get a hand santizer with a clip to hangs off your backpack for easy immediate use before eating and after restrooms)
    • 10 x wet wipes ........................................ (put a few wet wipes in a ziplock in case the toilets have no TP)
    • earplugs ........................................ (if you plan to get close the speakers)
  • comfort
    • portable hammock and straps .................... (slightly heavy, but you can put your portable hammock between 2 trees for a place to nap or watch a set)
    • pocket picnic blanket .................... (a true pocket picnic blanket can fit in your hand, but still seat 2 people)
  • fun:
    • permanent markers & paper & tape ........................................... (sharpies are great for labeling things, like your stuff... or another person's arm, as your property)
  • going ham:
    • portable speaker or radio ............................................ (although I never used mine as there is music everywhere and with zero service, you'd need to download songs offline beforehand)
    • zip ties ....................................... (helpful around camp and for attaching lights)

A note about backpack organization and lighting: The backpack I brought was sufficient in size, but only had two compartments! This meant a heap of digging and many times panicking that I had lost my phone. Next time I will be really careful to get a backpack with many pockets, and practise where to put each thing that I need/want. An ideal backpack would have hidden compartments, and already have lights attached, but you can also attach your own lights.

A note about the day/night transition: If you're in the outer GA camping area, it can sometimes take hours to get from your camp into the forest.... including the walking, then giant bag check lines. In 2022 it was better apparently but if you forget something from your bag you might still miss 2 sets for each time you need to return to camp. That said, it gets heavy and bulky to carry the jacket and pants you'll want when day becomes night! Either try to snag a locker (the sell out early), or just accept that you'll probably want to head back to camp just before sunset (9 pm) to eat food and change from your sexy daytime outfit into (warmer) night clothes, and you might even have ziplock to swap out sunscreen etc for your lighting equipment and warm wear.

  • lighting: (for night)
    • tiny flashlight and/or headlamp ................................. (for when day becomes night, your minimum safety)
    • string lights ....................................... (the led fairy lights are more versatile than you can imagine, but at very least attach some to your bag)
    • light toys ....................................... (maybe a bowtie, glasses or other led light up toys)
    • party glow sticks. ....................................... (the 300 packs of thin party glow stick are popular at eforest to (a) throw up into the when the beat drops or (b) illuminate an area around whre you are sitting to create a buffer zone so people don't walk into you - brilliant!)

Totem Pole (optional)

So the totem pole bears special mention! Big groups often choose to have one totem, because it gets so crowded you very easily lose everyone and you'll never find them again. Totem poles can be crazy fun, some people have crazy lights on top, or plush, inflateable toy, or signs. Some rules from the e-forest website about totems:

  • Totems must be no taller than 7 ft ....................................... (yeah, lots of people break this rule by having extendable poles!)
  • Totem sticks should be made of something light ....................................... (use PVC pipe or similar, no wood or metal, please)
  • Don't put anything that could gash a head or poke out an eye on the end of that totem ....................................... (if it looks like it could be used for a medieval joust, security may take it away)

I would love to try a cool totem at a future event. I actually spin staff, so I could almost just buy a glow staff and that works too. For me a happy lightweight option was these incredibly lightweight 5 foot telescoping handheld flagpoles that I could attach a flag and/or lights too, but fold away to nothing when I needed to be nimble. They were also fun to dance with, so if I go again I'll bring streamers for them plus decorative tapestries to use as a flag. Or I might go all out with a long pole that I can break in half and spin.


Suitcase

Because I was catching the plane and wanted to spend a little time in Chicago along the way I brought a hard-shell suitcase. A big duffle might have been great too. Most of the stuff in this section you can leave in your suitcase and keep inside your tent. If you bring anything valuable you might consider renting a locker, but these often sell out, so cross your fingers that all e-forest goers embrace the spirit of e-forest and nobody ever steals.

  • spare batteries .................... (you might not need them, but make sure they are in carry on)
  • spare batteries .................... (you might not need them, but make sure they are in carry on)

Clothes

This assumes the full 4 days. If you're like me, everything in a ziplock is helpful. Weather can range from 50-95 degrees Fahrenheit (10-32 °C), sometimes it rains, sometimes it can get windy and with foot traffic comes heavy dust, so come prepared for it all!


  • 5 x underpants
  • 6 x socks
  • 4 x hankies
  • 4 x shirts
  • 1 x jeans .................... (for cold nights)
  • 2 x shorts
  • 1 x swimmers .................... (there is a water park you nearby that the shuttle goes to!)
  • towel .................... (for the showers and the water park)
  • comfortable shoes .................... (you will do an insane number of steps per day)
  • flip-flops .................... (for around camp and showers)
  • hat .................... (sun protection)
  • warm layers:
    • thick jacket .................... (it can get sooo cold at night... get something thick and maybe fuzzy)
    • extra warm wear .................... (track suit, leggings, and hoodies to layer if you get cold)
    • light gloves
    • 1 x thick socks
    • tracksuit .................... (if you looked ahead at the forecast and it looks really cold at night)
  • fashion:
    • bandanna
    • small sewing kit .................... (safety pins are your friend)
    • 3 x costume outfits
    • jewelry .................... (lots of people like the pine necklaces and candy bracelets)
  • dust protection / functional:
    • dust masks .................... (some people like proper masks, some like bandanas, I prefer neck gaiters, just bring something to leave around your neck save your lungs and reduce any dust headaches)
    • wrist watch .................... (to help you get to music sets on time, since it's easy to lose track of time in the forest)

Costumes

I had fun with a cape, but ultimately I hope to wear my barbarian outfit most days. What you wear is up to you, but try Google search "electric forest fashion" if you want inspiration. I love wearing costumes but I also like pockets, so I like to wear mesh running pants underneath so I can have a real pocket to keep my spare phone.


Bling & Glow

  • e-wire
  • hippy necklaces .................... (good conversation starters)
  • flow toys .......................... (led hula hoops, dragon staffs and other glow toys)
  • glow toys .......................... (think rave wear, you might want some light up bling to help your friends find you and to look badass)
  • flash tattoos ...................... (temporary flash tattoos are just always a hit, get a bag and share with friends to bond - you'll want little scissors to cut them out and you can save time by cutting them all out beforehand)


Toiletry Bag

  • toiletry bags
    • shower + hair: soap / shampoo / loofah / comb
    • teeth: toothbrush / toothpaste
    • med: aspirin (dust headaches) / sleeping aid / cough lollies
    • hygiene: deodorant / body lotion / femine products ............................ (post-sun burn stuff)
    • other: extra earplugs / sleep mask / nail scissors / more lip balm / nasal spray ** ............................ (your nose will get contested with dust by day two, so a nasal spray is a godsend)


Getting in the Mood

Just in case you meet someone fun, or come with someone fun.

  • condoms & lube .................. (just in case)
  • breath freshener ................. (spray or tic-tacs)
  • massage oil ......................... (great to have if you have or meet a lady friend)
  • wet wipes ............................. (there are showers, but they could be far)
  • led tea lights ........................ (real candles = fire, but a tiny led candles can be fun)


Eforest Special

  • extra hammock and locks .................... (leave your portable hammock in the forest between 2 trees for a place to nap and some people buy combination locks to prevent theft)
  • walkie talkies ......................... (a pair of walkie talkies was suggested by my travel partner, the range was limited due to trees so it's not great, but it can work if you don't venture too far)
  • glow wear .................................. (wearable led lights for when the sun goes down)
  • gifts ............................................ (think: burning man gifting style - necklaces, candy bracelets and glow toys work well for instance)

Other

  • baby wipes ....................... (sometimes the shower line will be too long and you'll want to have a "wet wipe shower", pack 1 tub of 80 wipes per person to be safe as you'll want a few each day)
  • little speaker system ................. (although probably there will be music everywhere, so leave this at home)
  • picnic blanket
  • utilities
    • garbage bags ..................................... (for used clothes)
    • multi-tool or pocket knife
    • ziplock bags
    • zip ties
    • bungee cords
    • hand sanitizer bottle
  • rain protection
    • umbrella
    • compact ponchos


Food and Drink

You can't fly with food and drink, but you can shop at a Walmart or any grocery store just before you get to e-forest. Don't do a grocery store too close to the forest, because all the good produce might be bought out already.


Kitchen Supplies

If you have a car you might do cooking equipment - maybe a compact burner - but most people will arrive by plane and won't have that luxury.

  • utensils
    • camping plates, forks/spoons and cups .......................... (washable are best, and I really like this camping mess set)
  • cooler
    • good quality cooler .......................... (get a big one with great insulation so your ice might last as long as possible - if you don't have the space buy an expandable cooler bag for groceries)
    • ice ................................ (buy this at the very last stop, they sell ice at the general stores, but at a ridiculous cost - like $10 for tiny bags - so try to be really smart with your ice by not adding a dozen warm beers all at once - this will melt all your ice)
  • cooking (hardcore)
    • small propane or butane cook stove with fuel and cooking utensils ................................ (neither coal nor propane grills are not allowed due to increased fire risk
  • cleaning and storage
    • cloth or paper towels
    • reusable containers or bags for snacks
    • water resistant container for dry foods.


Food

If you are trying to bus in and/or travel light you can buy vendor food most days, but it's very expensive (each meal is $16-20) so you'll want to stop at a Walmart for food. You're not allowed to bring food into the forest (they search your bags), because they like to make money from food, but they don't search bags particularly hard, so you can be clever and sneak in some compact foods like granola bars pretty easily as emergency snacks. Lines for food can sometimes get long.

  • long lasting food:
    • granola & energy bars
    • lots of trail mix
    • energy bars
    • cranberry juice
    • long life milk .......................... (should last the 4 days on one set of ice)
    • cereal .......................... (for the morning)
    • cured meat .......................... (tends to last, get a couple of big salamis in your bag)
    • instant oatmeal/noodles and a way to make hot water
  • perishable, unrefrigerated:
    • fresh fruit: apples / oranges / bananas / pineapple / other fruit and snack veggies .......................... (cool cucumber, anyone?)
    • pre-cooked proteins: burgers / marinated chicken / etc
    • sandwich supplies: bread / peanut butter & jelly / lunch meat & condiments
    • pasta salad .......................... (already prepared and portioned)
    • muffins or other non-perishable baked goods
    • chips & dip / hummus & pita / tortillas & guac / carrots & peanut butter
  • cooled food
    • sandwiches ................... (have a couple)
    • yogurt ................... (lovely in the morning)

People often bring too much food, and it gets thrown away. I personally don't like the idea of bringing a stove, because it is a time suck, but if you adore cooking then here's some foods you might grill:

  • food to cook
    • uncooked meats: sausages / steaks / bacon / etc
    • cooked veg: corn / zucchini / bell pepper / onions / asparagus / mushrooms
    • other: noodles / egg / pancakes


Drink

A note on water: Staying hydrated is critical. Everyone should have their own reusable water bottle or hydration pack – metal or plastic, not glass! There are lots of refilling stations (sets of taps) in the camping areas and forest, but sometimes there are big lines for the forest refill stations, so it's nice to bring hydration packs or 2 liters of transparent containers that look sealed to help you skip lines. Some of the bag check people didn't like opaque water bottles, but one liter water bottles appear sealed (even when reused) and generally get let into the forest

A note on alcohol: Only canned beer and boxed wine are allowed. No glass is allowed. The limit is 1 case of beer and/or 1 box of wine per person. You must be 21+ to bring in or consume alcohol. Alcohol will dehydrate you, so drink extra water.

  • water (per person)
    • 1 gallon water bottles .......................... (keep in your tent)
    • 6 one liter water bottles .......................... (keep 2 your backpack, and by having six I did a single "water run" each morning)
  • alcohol (per person)
    • 1 case of canned beer per person .......................... (max allowed, and must be in cans, glass is confiscated)
    • 1 boxed wine per person .......................... (max allowed, you can't bring glass, but some people bring in the wine pouch)
  • extra
    • electrolytes
    • tea / coffee supplies


Tent

In 2022, my friend Liddy has a nice big 4 person tent, which worked well for the two of us. You'd never want to do a 2 person tent for 2 people (already too small) plus storing your luggage in there.

  • tent ..................................................... (try a tent that fits your # of people plus two and make sure it has a good rainfly)
  • sleeping bags ..................................................... (one warm one for each person as it can get crazy cold at night, in 2022 I shared one like a blanket and was freezing on the coldest night)
  • inflatable bed ..................................................... (Tip: If your tent is large enough, you'll want a big air mattress, maybe even a queen air mattress $50 with built in pump)
  • pillows
  • tent light ..................................................... (like this solar inflatable one)
  • sheets ..................................................... (laying directly on an inflatable bed feels weird, pack some light sheets)
  • utility:
    • duct tape & clear tape ................................................ (clear tape to put lights on things)
  • going ham: ................................................ (if you have a rental car)
    • extra rope ................................................ (in the goft cart ride to the vip section I needed rope to lock our luggage down, because they didn't have any)
    • tarp ................................................ (to prepare for any weather)
    • flag and flagpole ................................................ (to locate your tent from far away, bring a fun flag)
    • rubber mallet ................................................ (honestly, this is overkill, the ground is soft enough to push in a stakes with your shoe)


Shade / Canopy

Almost every tent at electric forest has a 10x10 foot popup canopy over it to shade the tent and/or provide a nice outdoor shaded area for camping chairs and in some cases a grill. The pop-up canopy is pretty heavy, so you might have to skip it if you have a car.

  • 10x10 foot popup canopy ......................... (often only $10 from target if you don't have any, you'll be very thankful for somewhere to sit)
  • folding camping chairs ......................... (often only $10 from target if you don't have any, you'll be very thankful for somewhere to sit)
  • toilet paper ......................... (officially, toilet paper is provided, but in 2022, the vip area always ran out)
  • going ham: ................................................ (if you have a rental car)
    • camping table
    • collapsible trash basket ................................................ (optional, since you can hang a trash bag from anywhere)
    • multiple decorative tapestries ......................... (most people hang trippy looking thin decorative tapestries on the side of the shade tent to add privacy and shade plus look awesome - definitely an eforest thing and they sell them there)


Luxury

  • picnic blanket ............................ (a large $15 foldable blanket is great to sit at concerts without getting yourself dirty if you're prepared to carry it)
  • inflatable couch ......................... (for $13, and inflatable lounger is great... they are less than 3 pounds, inflate in 60 seconds video)
  • massage table .......................... (was something fun I have brought to burning man where group camps are huge, but might not work as well at eforest)
  • welcome mat ............................ (not large, but just enough to wipe some dust off)
  • arm slinky ................................. (also called flow rings, which you can gift it away one the second day when you get bored of impressing BM newbies with the same trick in this video)
  • cape ......................................... (capes are so much fun, and can double for warmth)
  • fake fur coat ............................. (make you look baller and Amazon has some fur coat options closer to $20 which look pretty decent)
  • light up backpack ...................... (a friend at burning man has an amazing LED face mask she attached to her backpack for light with safety pins.... closest I can find for now is LED backpacks)
  • tiny dustpan and broom ................. (to clean out your tent)
  • spray bottle ............................... (tip: attach a carabiner and add lavender oil for bonus points)
  • huge inflatable animal ............................... (it cracked me up laughing to see a big row of t-rexes walk through a concert crowed, a big enough inflatable animal seems like a great way to make friends, a big plush might work too, but would get dirty and take up a lot of space)
  • bubbles! ...................... (a few people had badass bubble guns, but the simple blow kind can work too)
  • musical instruments! ...................... (you probably play something right?)


If You Forget Something

If anything gets left behind, visit eforest has some General Stores at the festival for most last minute needs such as batteries, snacks, camping equipment, bug spray (which you won't need), and more... but it's very overpriced. There will be many other stores that specialize in costumes, decorative tapestries, clothes, official forest merchandise and other fun stuff, but those are all expensive too, so please go over the list in detail to save yourself cash.


Make it Your Own

For Liddy and I, I created a google doc to coordinate our travel plans. I hope you make this list your own, and please email me anything useful that I should add or simply forgot (andrew.noskeATSIGNgmail.com). I hope you have an amazing festival!

Sincerely,

    Andrew Noske


Some Photos

Getting there:

2022 eforest 1 bus 600w.jpg 2022 eforest 2 cart 600w.jpg

Setting up:

2022 eforest 3 setup 600w.jpg 2022 eforest 5 tent setup 600w.jpg

Misc:

2022 eforest silly man 600w.jpg Electric forest tent city 600w.png

See Also


Links